Shares of Nektar Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:NKTR) were down 45% in midmorning trading on news that partner Eli Lilly and Co. does not plan to advance rezpegaldesleukin, a T regulatory cell stimulator targeting IL-2, in systemic lupus erythematosus, after the drug failed to meet prespecified criteria in phase II testing. While expressing disappointment in Lilly’s decision for lupus, Nektar CEO Howard Robin told investors during a late Feb. 23 conference call he anticipates the partners working to advance the drug in atopic dermatitis and other autoimmune indications.

UK pharma criticizes looming additional rise in revenue clawbacks

Plans by the U.K. government to claw back from pharma companies another 3.1% of the proportion of the drugs they sell to the National Health Service have been heavily criticized by the pharmaceutical industry as sending the “worst possible signal” to global investors. The Department of Health and Social Care announced in a consultation in December that it planned to increase the statutory scheme payment percentage from 24.4% to 27.5% starting April 1, 2023. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry is calling on the government to make a U-turn on the planned rate hike and for branded drug price controls to remain at the 24.4% level that the government previously set for 2023.

Pharma exec and cousin charged with securities fraud

The SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged a former pharmaceutical executive and his cousin Feb. 23 with the insider trading of Eastman Kodak Co. stock prior to a COVID-19 partnership with the U.S. government to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals. An SEC complaint alleges that 37-year-old Andrew Stiles, of Charleston, S.C., who worked as vice president of government initiatives and contract compliance at Richmond, Va.-based Phlow Corp., a medicine supply chain company, learned about Kodak’s effort to obtain a $765 million loan from the government to start a new business unit focused on developing active pharmaceutical ingredients that were in short supply and needed by the pharmaceutical industry as part of the pandemic response effort. Stiles tipped off his cousin, Gray Stiles, of Richmond, Va., also 37, and following the loan announcement, the cousins sold the shares and netted “$1.5 million in illegal profits,” the SEC said.

Newco news: Transcend raises a $40M to develop methylone-based therapies

Transcend Therapeutics Inc. has closed on a series A funding of $40 million for helping develop its next-generation compound, methylone, as a rapid-acting, disease-modifying, non-hallucinogenic treatment for neuropsychiatric conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Transcend is developing methylone, an MDMA analogue, which the company is preparing for a placebo-controlled phase I/II clinical trial of about 80 PTSD patients. The study, which could begin in the first quarter of 2023, has an open-label arm and a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled arm. The series A funding was led by Alpha Wave Global and Integrated Investment Partners. Other supporters included Global Founders Capital and Emerald Investment Managers.

Biocryst, Astria offer HAE results as more data line up on 2023’s runway

News continues to spill from the hereditary angioedema (HAE) landscape, where Biocryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. detailed real-world data with its approved prophylactic drug Orladeyo (berotralstat) and Astria Therapeutics Inc. offered phase Ia data with its long-acting HAE preventative called STAR-0215. Due to generate clinical findings soon as well are Kalvista Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Pharvaris BV. Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. will have phase III results next year with its antisense drug donidalorsen.

Biopharma stocks pull back after rising 17% in 2022

As broader markets struggled throughout 2022, the biopharma industry’s largest and most lucrative companies ended the year in a strong position, according to BioWorld’s Biopharmaceutical Index (BBI), which showed the 22 component stocks climbed by 17.3% throughout the year. Neither the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index (NBI) nor the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) demonstrated such gains. They were down by 10.9% and 8.8%, respectively. All three indices, however, are following the same path in 2023, shooting up throughout the month of January and back down in recent weeks. For the year so far, BBI is down 2.5%, while NBI is down 1.43% and DJIA is down 0.31%.

The BioWorld Insider Podcast: Cambrian carves out a new niche as it works to keep people from getting sick

As James Peyer, the CEO of Cambrian Biopharma Inc., watched his grandfather fail every cancer treatment and pass away, he also saw the structure of his future company being born. Waiting until people became sick was the wrong way to treat disease, he found. Instead, Cambrian was created to develop anti-aging therapies, a unique business model that fits the new field of geroscience. To do that, Cambrian became a biotech business, a VC fund and an incubator. Peyer spoke to the BioWorld Insider Podcast about his pipeline and how he goes about fundraising in a little understood field.

Also in the news

4d Molecular, Abbvie, ABVC, Accutar, Adial, Aerami, Aldeyra, Allovir, Amicus, Areteia, ARS, Aslan, Astellas, Bioatla, Cantargia, Capsida, Cybin, Denali, Enliven, Enlivex, Evofem, Fore, Forge, Fulcrum, Graphite, Horizon, Imara, Impel, Intellia, IPS Heart, Kodak, Merck, Moderna, Octapharma, Olatec, Pharmaessentia, Precision, Regeneron, Regenxbio, Roche, Sangamo, Sellas, Skye, Theratechnologies, Tonix, Viiv